BITTERNESS OF DISAPPOINTMENT
We may boldly affirm that the title of the Empress to her portion of
Poland is not the work of a moment or of chance, but the creation of thirty
years of labour* cares and colossal effort of every kind.
(Osterman, the Chancellor of Catherine the Second to the King of Prussia,
On January 16, 1943, tne ^aY after his arrival from America., Sikorski
addressed the ten thousand Polish soldiers stationed in Scotland.
Speaking of the results of his visit, he assured them that " all problems
concerning us are favourably settled." Yet on the same day the Narko-
mindel handed a Note to the Polish Ambassador at Kuibyshev and in
that Note., the Soviets declared that the * exemption * granted by the
Soviet Government in favour of deportees of Polish nationality from
Eastern Poland would be withdrawn. This meant that from January 16,
1943, everyone from that section of Poland would automatically become
a Russian subject. Thus, one year and a half after the conclusion of the
Pact with the Polish Republic, the Soviet Government discovered a new
interpretation quite alien to the letter and spirit of that Pact. In the
Note, the Narkomindel stated that " the Polish Government, in spite of
the goodwill shown by the Soviet Government, has adopted a negative
attitude to this Agreement by putting forward claims to Eastern Poland,
claims which conflicted with the Soviet's sovereign rights,"
Poland had no object in claiming these provinces, for they had always
been part of her country. Through the medium of this Note the Soviets
were simply declaring that they were about to re-annex Eastern Poland.
Thus Moscow virtually nullified the Polish-Russian Treaty of July, 1941.
It was a complete collapse of the policy of appeasement hitherto em-
ployed by Sikorski. Up till that time it had been justified by his endeavour
to rescue the Poles exiled in Russia, but this Note was calculated to destroy
even that argument. The Polish Government had been deprived of its
citizens, the Kremlin had usurped these people for itself. The Narko-
mindel underlined the point that the Polish-Russian Treaty of July, 1941,
contained no paragraph which cancelled the results of the * election *
already carried out in Eastern Poland, and, moreover, that the term
* amnesty * used in the Treaty was " proof of the Polish Government's
recognition of the Soviet's sovereign rights to this country, since no
Government can bestow amnesty to the citizens of another Power."
The possibility of rescuing the Polish citizens in Russia and saving
them from starvation had now practically disappeared. The Narko-
mindel, explained this Note a few days later by saying that, since the
number of Polish citizens in Russia was ** insignificant, any relief organisa-
tion for them was useless," and that the families of the soldiers who iiad